For climber Paul Pritchard, the biggest challenge he ever faced wasn't a mountain but the long climb back to life. Not his former life of the 1990s, when he surfed many of the world's most treacherous rock faces. The boulder that crushed him while he was climbing the Totem Pole in Tasmania put a stop to that. A six-year struggle with hemiplegia and brain injury followed, slowly reassembling his world physically, emotionally and mentally. Progress is halting but also triumphant and often blackly humorous. Geographically, he progresses from careering downhill in Snowdonia, not entirely in control of a tricycle, via a dubious Moroccan expedition, to ascents of both Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. And two love affairs, one with Tasmania, where he now lives, and the other with Jane, one of the nurses who took care of him after the accident. Now married, they have a small daughter, Cadi. The Longest Climb is full of life, a moving and unblinkered view of a battered climber who refuses to turn his back on the mountains.
Paul Pritchard's first book, Deep Play: A Climber's Odyssey from Llanberis to the Big Walls, won him the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature. Ironically, it was the prize money that launched him on the climbing tour that ended on the Totem Pole in Tasmania. His next book, The Totem Pole and a Whole New Adventure, tells the story of that seastack rockfall and its consequences. It won the Boardman Tasker a second time and the Grand Mountain Book Prize at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada.